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Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo in Paterson, New Jersey in 1906. It might surprise you to know that in high school he was an excellent athlete, playing basketball (he was a champion free throw shooter) and he also did some boxing! In 1927, Lou went to Hollywood, wanting to be an actor, but he only got some extra roles, and a job at a studio as a carpenter. In 1930, he gave up and moved back home, and got jobs in vaudeville as a stand-up comic (and at this time he changed his name to Costello). A few years later he met "straight man" Bud Abbott, and they worked together sometimes, and in 1936 they became a team. In 1938, they got their big break on "The Kate Smith Hour" on radio. They were a giant success, and they appeared on Kate Smith's show on a regular basis. In 1940, they made their Broadway debut in a play called "The Streets of Paris", which also featured Bobby Clark, Louella Gear, Carmen Miranda, and many others, including 50 Parisian beauties. This led to their first appearance, in the 1940 movie "One Night in the Tropics", where they repeated a shortened version of their already classic "Who's On First?" routine. The next year they were given the starring roles in Buck Privates, and the movie was such a huge success that they made 14 more movies for Universal before the end of World War II, and they were among the foremost Hollywood stars. After the war, they continued to make lots of movies but in 1948 they hit on a new kind of movie, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which paired them with classic Universal monsters. This was very popular, and led to three more similar movies. The team had a popular radio show throughout the 1940s, and in the early 1950s, with their movie careers winding down, they started another radio show, and they also had a TV show for two seasons. Lou Costello had had a great tragedy in his life. In 1943, he had caught rheumatic fever and did not work for six months. He and his wife had three children, and later in 1943, soon after he returned to work, and when their youngest was just under a year old, the child fell into their pool and drowned. In 1957, the IRS went after Bud and Lou for back taxes, and they both sold their homes and the rights to some of their movies. They split up their act, and Lou acted alone in just one movie, but then he died of a heart attack. He was just 52, and his wife died later that year at age 49. In their day, Abbott and Costello were the biggest comedy stars (and were likely the most successful comedy team ever in terms of box office). They had many classic routines and catchphrases that are instantly recognizable to anyone over a certain age ("Who's On First?","HEEEEYYY ABBOTT!", "I'm a BAAAD boy", etc)!
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